TANTEA estates suffer from lack of workers: Minister

The Hindu Bureau

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Saturday, 1st April 2023
Page No. 10
Chennai Print Edition

A lack of manpower in its tea estates is among the reasons for Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation (TANTEA) to incur losses. The government is taking measures to improve productivity, Minister for Forests M. Mathiventhan said in the Assembly on Friday.

Responding to a special calling attention motion moved by Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Mr. Mathiventhan said there were only about 3,800 workers to tend the tea estates spread over about 4,000 hectares. According to the norms of the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI), 1.75 workers have to be engaged for collecting tea leaves for one hectare. “Going by this norm, we need to have about 6,000 workers, but we have only 3,800 workers and 180 officials,” he said.

Though there were about 6,400 hectares of tea estates under TANTEA in the late 1990s, about 1,900 hectares was handed over to the Forest Department between 2012 and 2019, when the AIADMK was in power. Over 500 hectares was transferred during the present DMK government, Mr. Mathiventhan said.

Listing the measures being taken to improve the productivity of the estates, the Minister said steps were being taken to find out the soil nutrient status and a business analytical study, being conducted by a private company, was in the final stage of preparation.

Tourism Minister K. Ramachandran (who held the Forest portfolio earlier) said the AIADMK government did not use sufficient fertilizer to keep the estates healthy. This led to tea leaves of poor quality.

Moving the motion, Mr. Palaniswami said tea estates as old as 40 years were destroyed on March 29 and workers staged protests on March 30. He urged the government to rescind an order returning a part of the estates from TANTEA to the Forest Department.

Pon. Jayaseelan of the AIADMK (Gudalur) said over 5,300 acres of the tea estates had been returned to the Forest Department over the years. He also referred to the latest transfer of the plantations to the Forest Department through an order issued on October 3 last year.

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